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Sep 20, 2023Sep 20, 2023

BECK, a leading restoration and refurbishment fit-out specialist, has shared its team’s experiences of working on the Lift 109 visitor experience for the Battersea Power Station Development Company.

In a recent case study, the firm revealed details and insights from its successful fit-out at the historic London landmark.

It took ten years to convert Battersea Power Station into a mixed-use space. What was once a disused power station reopened in October 2022 with housing, retail, restaurants, business properties, entertainment, a visitor experience, and green spaces.

The construction of Battersea A Power Station began in 1929, but it took four years for the first two chimneys to be built and electricity produced. By 1955, London’s demand for electricity had increased and the next phase of work for Battersea B was completed. This phase included the construction of the final two iconic chimneys.

The power plant served London for over thirty years until declining productivity owing to age and rising operating costs became too tough to overcome. The A station was decommissioned in 1975, and the B station was decommissioned in 1983.

BECK was the primary contractor for the Lift 109 visitor experience, collaborating with designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates and Fraser Randall as part of the client team.

The company began work to convert a portion of Turbine Hall A in April 2022. The project covered the development of a new media centre, shops, and back-of-house facilities. Among the Grade II listed heritage features that were painstakingly maintained were the original Busbars for high current power distribution, which were shot blasted and re-finished. New flooring, custom joinery and metalwork were added which integrated MEP and AV equipment.

A chandelier connects to a custom-made multi-touch table just beneath it. This enables guests to take part in an interactive game in which they generate varied degrees of power to activate the lighting above.

Due to the historical significance of the structure, tight limitations for attaching to the fabric of the building were in place. A historic steel roof truss had been repaired and needed to be a focal point. Consequently, the chandelier required careful positioning, suspended from the highest point of the roof truss with the body of the fitting beneath the framework.

The team created a custom steel grid that was fitted to the roof, which could then attach to the chandelier at a lower level. Steel wires fixed this at the highest possible point while avoiding the original steel truss, pipes, and lighting. Each of the chandelier’s eight rings was suspended from a separate set of cables, in a challenging installation.

London’s brand-new glass lift to the top of the Northwest chimney, 109 meters above sea level. The lift is guided by light constellations as it climbs, and 360-degree panoramic views of the capital can be experienced at the top. The Lift 109 experience ends with a visit to the curated shop.The most difficult problem for the BECK team was integrating with the building’s original structure. New HVAC and fire protection technologies needed to be added. Consultation with the Architectural and Heritage Teams was critical throughout the project’s design, building, and installation phases.

Two big ducts flowed through the area to serve an adjacent unit, while the space containing a large number of media equipment required cooling. Beams supporting the floor above were also taken into account.

“We were unable to connect to the existing ducting and ordinarily would look to install fan coil units to cool the space. Unfortunately, due to the lack of space and size of the units required, this meant they could not be ceiling mounted,” BECK reports. “Our calculations revealed two fan coil units would be required, plus an MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery) system which would exchange the warm air generated by the media equipment, with the cooler air from the shopping mall.”

A portion of exposed brickwork on the wall was large enough for a wall-mounted vertical fan coil unit to be installed, and the team added a wall in front to conceal it. Because the unit could not be connected directly to the historical brickwork, a support frame was constructed.

There was space in the kitchen area for the second unit. The MVHR was subsequently installed in the media space’s ceiling void, with ducting running to the CLE’s external walls. To fit in with the finishes, grilles were inserted into the perforated panel feature above the main door.

Due to the size and weight of the entrance, the main door design required consideration. It was critical to find a motor powerful enough to move the door while being silent and consuming little electricity.“After consulting with a specialist, it was determined that a hydraulic motor would be the best option,” BECK reflects. “This gave us more control and allowed us to tailor the speed and distance in which the door moved. The client also wanted to control the door from a tablet computer and with the help of our AV contractor, we were able to make this happen.”

The final result was a stunning new media area filled with original records and cutting-edge multimedia displays. The lift itself climbs to the top of the renowned Northwest chimney for an unsurpassed view across the city. The finish in the shop space and back-of-house areas is first-rate. Every detail paid close attention to the historical significance and period elements of the building.

Chris Lawrenson, director at BECK, says: “We were hugely privileged to have been selected to undertake works at this iconic landmark. The programme and logistical constraints were extremely challenging.”

“However, by working closely with Battersea Power Station Development Authority, and Fraser Randall we were able to successfully deliver the wonderful design, expertly visualised and created by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. I would encourage everyone to pay a visit to the development. The heritage of the building is something to behold and to top it off with a 360-degree view from 109 metres high is a special experience.”

BECK recently completed the fit-out for the redesigned Hunterian Museum, London, which opened to visitors on 16 May.

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leading restoration and refurbishment fit-out specialistBattersea Power StationLift 109Chris LawrensonRalph Appelbaum Associatesredesigned Hunterian Museum